Coca-Cola suffers setback in new Coke No Sugar; Woolworths refuses to stock Coke Zero replacement

By @chelean on
A pedestrian in Sydney passes a large Coca-Cola sign in the city's east August 3, 2004.
A pedestrian in Sydney passes a large Coca-Cola sign in the city's east August 3, 2004. Reuters/Will Burgess

Coca-Cola’s new healthier soda variant is taking a huge blow in Australia barely a month after it was released. Woolworths, the largest supermarket chain in the country, is refusing to stock new Coca-Cola No Sugar in its stores, and this could affect badly its already dwindling sales.

Coke launched the new variant last month in a bid to lure health-conscious consumers back. No Sugar is expected to replace Coke Zero eventually, but given the roadblock that the new variant is currently facing, that would perhaps happen in the far future.

Woolworths has refused to stock on No Sugar, saying it already sells a lot of other no-sugar or low-sugar soda choices in its stores. It will continue to offer Coke Zero, however.

“We have taken the decision to not range this product at this time,” a spokesman from the supermarket giant told the Australian. “Our customers looking for a no-sugar or low-sugar cola option have ample choices already in the category across a range of different pack sizes and formats. We continue to stock Coca-Cola Zero in our stores nationwide.”

Australian bottler Coca-Cola Amatil has declined to comment on Woolworths’ stance. As the Australian notes, its CEO, Alison Watkins, is a former director of Woolworths.

Woolworths’ refusal to sell No Sugar came following Domino’s decision to dump Coca-Cola from its stores. The pizza chain has decided to go with Coke rival Pepsi to help lower costs for its franchise owners.

There’s a ray of sunshine in this otherwise gloomy forecast for Coke, though. Woolworths rival Coles is not only stocking Coke No Sugar in its stores, it is also heavily promoting the so-called healthy variant.

Following the success of Coke Zero launch in 2006, Coca-Cola released another variant in 2015, the Coke Life, a half-stevia, half-sugar cane sweetened beverage that aimed to cater to diet-conscious drinkers. However, Coke Life was not met with a warm welcome, eventually proving to be a failure product.

Coke No Sugar is the latest attempt by the drink company to reach out to a booming industry that seeks healthier alternatives to regular food and beverage. Coca-Cola is currently giving away 2 million samples of the new drink until August.